The Resorts and rooms at the Disney Parks are some of the most fun places in the world. Half the excitement of booking your Disney vacation comes in the form of picking out the resort that fits your lifestyle, wants, and theme. For me, that choice was easily Old Key West Resort and they did not disappoint. See below for why I find Old Key West to be the most underrated hotel at Walt Disney World.
- Largest rooms compared to all other Disney hotels/homelike feel
The rooms at Old Key West are undoubtedly the largest rooms at a Walt Disney World Resort. Built in the early 1990’s the resort’s family-friendly and large size was essential to the architectural design and the presence of being at home is linked throughout the entire resort. The family sizing was important as its original name was not Old Key West (this came about in 1996) but rather it was the Disney Vacation Club Resort. Now, with DVC you have access to 13 different resorts at WDW so you can see why this name change was important.
The welcoming feeling is strung throughout the resort, as Disney does so wonderfully. You will even find the cutest touches, such as their designated buses that flash the sign ‘Welcome Home’ on them as well as the greeting from resort cast members. It makes you feel fantastic, as you imagine it being home and just wish for it to always be home.
As for specifics on size, it is said the sizing is as follows:
Studio Suite: 376 square feet (compared to 344 at Animal Kingdom- Jambo)
One Bedroom Suite: 942 sq ft
Two-Bedroom Suite: 1333 sq ft
Grand Villa: 2202 sq ft
2. 24 Hour Pool
If you know me, I don’t like to miss out on any park time so I don’t typically schedule pool hours. However, Teddy can’t get enough of the pool! If he could spend half the day at the pool and skip the lines to lay out, have a beer and enjoy the day, he would do so. This is why I LOVE Old Key West’s 24 hour pools. Especially in the summer when you know after a long day, the pool is hot and warm still from the day heat and you can enjoy yourself without the worry of loud kids or worrying you’re missing your favourite fast pass. It was also a fantastic wind down after a long day of running from ride to ride and okay, from shop to shop.. and maybe from snack to snack… it’s vacation! You have to indulge!!
If you’re looking for a spot with the 24 hour pool, they do not typically advertise it on their websites as that but you can always contact the hotel front desk when making your reservation to ensure you get your preferred room placement.
We went in blind and let them choose whichever room for us, it ended up working out as we received a room in the Old Turtle Pond area. This branch was further from the hospitality house but had everything we needed being so close to the 24 hour pool. As a couple with no kids, we would definitely stay in that area again. If you have kids, you may prefer being closer to the hospitality house although that does lead to temptation with more shops and take-out food available!
Side tip: Wanna stay on budget with homemade food? Most villas have kitchens and being away from hospitality house will allow for less distractions for eating out! Also, don’t forget Amazon Prime Now which can be ordered straight to your hotel room- before you leave, when you land, or when you’re in park for a money saving dinner option! See my post on Amazon Prime Now in Disney Parks for more info.
3. Olivia’s Cafe
There is something way too adorable about Olivia’s Cafe. I had gone for breakfast with Teddy and I immediately called my family because I missed them so much and wanted them to be there with us. Did I mention this place is family friendly? Family is the absolute core of the resort and it shines through in Olivia’s cafe. Photos on the wall showcase vintage and older WDW DVC family members and vacations with the name of each family on the bottom of them. It makes my heart MELT. #goals
The food is also fantastic. It takes a twist on the everyday, boring bacon and eggs and has a fresh zest to it. We had eaten every bit of it, so it had to have been good.
4. Landscape that embraces the Florida Keys
Alright, now here is where I wave my Canada flag and bring up this controversial issue of the design and architecture of the Old Key West Resort. I had found that when talking to the locals, they didn’t like much of what OKW has to offer in the decor and design concepts. I realized soon that the individuals I talked to that did love the design as much as I did were not locals and they tend to be much further than that. Being in the theme of home, it is seen as though it would be your Florida home and is set to the beach and breezy beauty of the Florida Keys which to anyone from anywhere other than Florida will find AMAZING just as I did. However, the setting can be less exciting when the decor is so similar to that of home and during vacations you tend to want to explore, do the extraordinary, and immerse yourself in a different land. After all, that’s what Disney does just SO well.
With that being said, being a Canadian I find the Wilderness resort one of the least exciting resorts. Not for any reason other than the decor and architecture is so close to home for me. Working in the tourism industry, I have seen hundreds of images and am entirely immersed in the forestry and wooded areas of the Pacific Northwest. This resort, however, was so well received by all the fantastic locals we met there.
So, what I am saying is- if you want to immerse yourself within Florida Keys and are excited to be in Florida, OKW is your place. If you are thinking you want something different and want to immerse yourself in a different land, another look at the other resorts may be where you will need to go!
I personally love Florida and the gingerbread architecture and pale colours are just instagram ready!! (That’s important you know 😉 )
5. DVC Points
While we didn’t do this ourselves, one of the main benefits to staying at a DVC Resort is that you can rent DVC points for a possibly cheaper vacation! Yes, cheaper vacation! Those sweet, sweet two words that rarely go together but are so possible!
It is important to do this safely, and there are some websites that ensure more safety than others. I always suggest to go through a company rather than speaking directly with a person trying to sell their DVC points. This way you have a customer service team to be backed up on and there are more security measures in place to help save you money and help your security.
In a breakdown, the DVC member may “rent” out their DVC points in exchange for a monetary amount. With that, they will book the room and you will enjoy that space! There is no guaranteed rate as the amount of points do vary depending on your dates but you and the DVC member will agree on a per point price to ensure you are getting the most out of it.
For the nitty gritty on this, check out my friends on the Disney Tourist Blog whom have a complete break down of how it works here.
Don’t forget to let them know I sent you!
6. Minimal walking needed with internal bus system
Teddy and I are weird. We rode different bus systems from different resorts just to see what they were like. If that doesn’t sound like a great time to you, you’re mostly right (haha!). We were curious though so we checked it out for a bit. Here’s what we found on our journey:
Not all bus systems are made equally.
Some resorts have one stop. Some have multiple. Some buses are shared with other resorts.
So this is why we love Old Key West, it has it’s own internal bus system (as do more of the Deluxe Villa Resorts) and we found that this caused for less walking. We had previously stayed in Building 7 of Port Orleans and were shocked that we were walking further to the bus stop when we were so much closer to the hospitality house in that resort than we were with OKW. Granted, we did have 2 stops to the hospitality house, it was SO much nicer in the 44 degree celsius heat to be in a air conditioned bus and steps are always good saved when they can be used running from churro to churro in the park!
All in all, no Disney resort will truly let you down. We have yet to have a bad experience but OKW is definitely our preferred experience. We don’t try to do favourites but… as the 1500 words you just read about OKW, we may have made an exception on that one for this resort in specific. 😉
Happy travels and let us know what you think of your resort!!
As always, have questions? I’m all ears! Send ’em on over to: firstname.lastname@example.org